Research

ANCA is always working to collaborate on research that is relevant to the nature and environmental learning center community.

PC: National Audubon Society, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Blair Audubon Center, Naples, FL

The ANCA Blue Ribbon Report, May 2015

In 2014 ANCA commissioned the Blue Ribbon Report, a comprehensive report that explores what leaders in the field view as the societal and economic future of our industry over the next 25 years. The report identifies significant trends and developments and provides recommendations for how ANCA can continue to support the growth of nature centers in the future.

Nature Centers & Communities Study, March 2016

Nature centers hold tremendous potential to serve as hubs for learning and connection, not only between people and nature, but also between fellow community members. This study examined the relationship between nature centers and the people living around them – including both people who visit and people who don’t visit but still perceive value in a nature center existing in their community.

Read the Final Report Narrative 

Read the Final Report 

Identifying the Drivers of Success in Educational Programs at Nature Centers and National Parks in the United States, Forthcoming 
Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services
Investigators: Robert B. Powell, Clemson University, and Marc J. Stern, Virginia Tech

This study will investiate environmental education (EE) programs for youth across the United States and identify the program characteristics that most powerfully influence positive student outcomes. Research has shown that such programs can achiece multiple positive outcomes, such as enhancing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and interests associated with scientific curiosity, environmental literacy, and civic engagement. Current best practices for delivering these programs, however, are based on the general consenses of academics and practitioners, rather than upon systematically collected empirical evidence. Most empirical research has been conducted on single programs, making lessons about why programs achieve certain outcomes difficult to discern. Such lessons can only be uncovered through comparatice reserach using consistent outcome measures. The study will directly address this gap in our knowledge. 

We will visit 40 National Park Service units and nature centers distributed across the country. At each site, we will aim to observe at least 5 day programs over a period of two weeks. The data will be used to compare which mixtures of program characteristics most commoly produce the most positive outcomes for participants.